Thursday, 1 August 2013

Cycling Holidays France – Why Holiday in Provence, France?

If you're heading off for a cycling holiday in France, Provence is a region you must not miss. The area is famous for its beauty, with days full of sunshine, pretty vineyards, winding river paths, lavender fields and stunning landscapes whose vivid colours inspired post impressionist artists Cézanne and Van Gogh.

This region is rich in history and culture but, along with its museums, châteaux and ancient buildings, you can also enjoy wining and dining in some of the excellent restaurants en route. Cycle Breaks have put together tours through Provence which include routes to introduce you to the beauties of the countryside, with personally selected accommodation full of local colour.

Cycling Holidays in France  – Click here to start your journey of discovery.

Here are just some of the reasons why Provence is such an attractive place to spend a cycling holiday this year.

Wonderful Food – Budding gourmets will find plenty to tease their taste buds in Provence. Its cuisine typically features generous helpings of garlic and olive oil, while seafood also plays a key role. Among the region's most famous dishes are ratatouille, a vegetable stew bursting with peppers, tomatoes, aubergines and courgettes; tapenade, a sauce made of chopped olives, anchovies and capers; and bouillabaisse, a soup which can include as many as seven kinds of fish. Popular desserts include calissons, candied fruit delicacies, and fresh fig tarts. Or why not top off your meal with one of the region's celebrated goat cheeses?

Fantastic Local Markets
– Provence has a wonderful range of local markets which are the perfect place to pick up fresh delicacies, as well as flowers, bric-a-brac, antiques and many other products. Carpentras boasts one of the largest weekly markets in France, which has been running since early medieval times and now has 350 stalls, including a famous trade in black truffles during the winter. Another popular market is held at l'Isle sur la Sorgue, an island town with hundreds of antique dealers. Other towns with thriving markets include historic Arles and Vaison-la-Romaine.

Delicious Wine – The village Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which has given its name to one of the world's most famous red wines, lies between Orange and Avignon, at the foot of a ruined château. Cycle Breaks' Provence tours include visits to this region, rich in vineyards, allowing plenty of time to wander round the village. You will also have the opportunity to visit St Cécile les Vignes, another community famous for its wine. Provence is well known for its rosé wines, said to be among the best in the world, so take the time to sample these too.

Ancient Sites and Buildings – There are many fascinating ancient sites to visit along the way during your cycling holidays in Provence. The amphitheatre at Arles, dating from the 1st century, bears witness to the region's Roman history, as do Orange's Roman arch and theatre, and the Pont du Gard, an ancient aqueduct near Remoulins. Another famous landmark is the Pont St-Bénézet, also known as the Pont d'Avignon, the medieval bridge celebrated in song. And don't miss Avignon's spectacular Palais des Papes, the medieval Gothic former Papal palace which is one of the largest buildings of its kind in Europe.

Fascinating Museums – Provence has an impressive selection of museums to visit during your holiday, including the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh in Arles, which features tributes to the artist by other painters, the Musée Municipale in Orange which contains paintings and pieces of Roman history, a wine museum in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the unique Epicurium, the “living museum” of fruit and vegetables in Avignon. And whilst it might not be typical French cuisine, those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the Haribo museum in medieval Uzès.

Pretty Towns and Villages – Make sure you have your camera with you all the time in Provence, because there are so many picturesque towns and villages to capture. These include Carpentras, with its Italian influence showing in the beautifully decorated houses, Pernes-les-Fontaines, which boasts no less than 36 fountains, Arles, with its plane trees and traditional French café terraces and Orange, with its Roman influence, ancient cathedral and old town.

Stunning Nature Reserves – Just south of Arles lies the Camargue, a unique region containing the largest river delta in Western Europe, which was designated as a regional natural park in 1970. One of Cycle Breaks' Provence tours offers the chance to visit this wildlife haven, a vast plain with reed beds and brine pools, which is home to wild white horses and black bulls as well as more than 400 birds, including pink flamingoes. Provence also has numerous other wild landscapes and natural havens which are well worth a visit.

And It’s Perfect for Romance
– One of Provence's most unusual attractions is the small town of Roquemaure, near Avignon, where the church contains relics of St. Valentine – the inspiration for an annual kissing festival which attracts more than 20,000 people. The town is known as the “Capital of Lovers” and, if you post a love letter here, the post office will even seal it with a kiss!

Cycling Holidays in Provence  – Click here to start your journey of discovery.

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